I was born in a quaint shoe shop, Pinky's Boutique, in Chelsea. The owner, Anna Ortega, designed me and I came to life in the workshop in the back. A place filled with the smell of leather, glue, and polish and the sounds of hammers and sewing machines. Mario, the Mexican artisan, who cobbled me together, whispered, "hermosa," beautiful in Spanish, as he built me.
The next day, he placed me in front of a mirror and I saw myself for the first time. I didn't think I was pretty, not like the others on the shelf. I am a deep-purple, snakeskin sandal with four-inch, black, platform heels but the one on my right was a turquoise, lambskin, ballet flat with orange, leather piping and the one on my left was a fuchsia, Italian silk pump with five-inch heels. They were beautiful and they were chosen that first day.
I languished there, longed to be adopted with each passing hour. One time, Mario brought his wife into the shop to show me off, apparently hoped she might buy me but when she discovered how much I cost, she laughed and left the store.
In the beginning, I didn't have a price tag. That's how expensive I was. In my second foster home, the department store, I had a tiny one, not quite large enough for parents to read. Now, in my current home, an off-price retail store, I have a gigantic yellow tag, so abundant it covers half my sole.
I know my dreams of a parent with a shoe carousel in a walk-in shoe closet are now crushed. I think no one in this place could possibly own those, until I catch sight of a tall brunette, in skinny jeans with a lavender, Kate Spade purse, walk towards me. She picks me up, and I can't hide my excitement, but I'm soon mortified when she scrunches her size-10 foot into my size-8 self. I hate these vain women, ones who think everything about them is small. But feet tell the truth and regardless of how size 2 you are elsewhere, you're still gigantic in your extremities. Get out now.
She relegates me to the display rack, and I see that the designer, gold sandal with four-inch heels is missing. Everything about her screamed rich, from her Swarovski crystal decorations in the front to her genuine crocodile-skin leather back.
Alone on the shelf, I wait for her to return and with each moment that passes, I collapse deeper into sadness, in the knowledge she won't be back. I now blame the woman with the giant feet. Why couldn't she see I wouldn't fit? If she'd left me here, then maybe the wealthy woman who obviously adopted the gilded sandals might've chosen me instead. I try not to cry because if I do, I sink into myself and become an ugly sight. I thrust my straps high in the air and stand tall on my shank, dare parents to notice me.
And one does.